Governor Address - 2002
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE GOVERNOR OF MANIPUR, SHRI VED PRAKASH MARWAH TO THE 8TH MANIPUR LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY ON 12.03.2002
Hon'ble Speaker and Hon'ble Members,
I am happy to welcome you all to this inaugural session of the 8th Manipur legislative Assembly. A new Government has been installed after the just concluded elections. I take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Manipur and all the newly elected Members of this august House. In the prevailing circumstances, the people of Manipur have cast a heavy responsibility on the Members. I am confident that this House will protect and safeguard the territorial integrity of Manipur and join hands to maintain peace and harmony among our people.
2. I am sad to say that our people have suffered for too long. The canker of insurgency is eating into the very vitals of our society. There is almost no section of society which is left untouched by this malaise. It will, therefore, be the endeavor of my Govt. to strictly maintain law and order in the State and simultaneously take effective steps to bring about a dialogue with the various insurgent outfits. I hope, and my optimism may not be misplaced, the various insurgent outfits will take cognizance of the suffering of our people and respond favorably to the appeal for a negotiated settlement.
3. My Government is determined to provide clean, transparent and effective governance with the active involvement and participation of the people at the grass-root level. To achieve this objective, it is proposed to hold elections to the local bodies including the Panchayats and the District Councils at the earliest. Adequate powers will also be delegated to the local bodies. All pending corruption cases, including those referred to the CBI, will be followed up for speedy disposal.
4. My Government is committed to take special care of minorities. Setting up of a Minorities Commission will, therefore, be considered to safeguard the interests of the minorities in the State. The implementation of programmes for social and economic upliftment of women are proposed to be expedited. The Government will continue to fund NGOs, who are actively engaged in the welfare and training of Minorities with Central assistance. The Govt. also proposes to take up construction of hostels for OBC boys and girls provide pre-matric and post matric scholarship and stipend for free coaching to help the OBC students in the competitive examinations.
5 There has been a sustained demand from the people of some Assembly Constituencies in Thoubal district which are part of the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency for inclusion in the Inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency. My Government proposes to take up the matter appropriately with the Election Commission.
6. This august House is aware of the serious financial difficulties being faced by the State Government. Due to several factors including uncontrolled growth of non-Plan expenditure without any corresponding increase in the revenues, the situation has reached a point wherein it has not been possible even to pay the salaries and allowances of the State Government employees regularly. This has also had an adverse impact on implementation of development and welfare programmes. Growing public resentment is manifested in the form of frequent agitations, bandhs and disruption of traffic along the National and State Highways. The increasing unemployment, particularly among the educated unemployed youth, has further aggravated the insurgency scenario in the State. In due course, this House should carefully debate in depth this core issue and resolve to cooperate with the Government for implementing steps which have already been initiated in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, Government of India for right –sizing the Government and reducing non-plan expenditure. The initiatives taken for identifying areas and means for mobilization of additional resources need to be carried forward with a sense of urgency. The steps being taken for effective recovery of outstanding public debts need to be further strengthened. My Govt. will endeavor to achieve greater financial discipline so that additional resources are mobilized for the rapid development of the State. The report of the study entrusted to the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi is expected to be received shortly. My Government will give serious consideration to the early implementation of the recommendations and to present a White Paper on the financial position of the State.
7. My Government recognizes the gravity of the situation created by growing unemployment. It is informed that almost four lakh youths are on the live registers of the Employment Exchanges. This is a staggering figure considering that the total population of the state as per the 2001 Census stood at 23, 88,634.The burgeoning number of unemployed youth are not only a source of frequent agitations but also a ready fodder for the various insurgent groups. It is, therefore, proposed to set up a High Level Committee to review the utility of the ongoing Central and State Govt. schemes and, if necessary, propose new schemes for creation of employment opportunities. Simultaneously, assistance of the Central Govt. will be sought for holding recruitment rallies at Imphal and the outlying district headquarters for recruitment of boys and girls from Manipur into army and the Central Para-military forces. We will make sustained efforts for constituting and raising the Manipur Regiment in the Army.
8. My Govt. is committed to prepare a rational policy of the transfer and posting of Govt. employees. This will ensure that adequate number of teachers, doctors and Para-medical personnel etc. are available in the outlying districts for teaching and providing better healthcare respectively in the rural and Hill areas. My Govt. will strive to provide stable tenures to Officers and staff while addressing their genuine grievances.
9. My Govt. will pay special attention to the improvement of educational standard in the State. To achieve this objective, the School Education Department will expedite utilization of funds released from the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources for extension of class rooms for 172 High Schools, 43 Higher Secondary Schools and 205 Primary Schools. Utilization of funds received under the 11th Finance Commission Award will be expedited and gainfully utilized for construction of buildings for Junior High Schools. Alternative and Innovative Education and the Education Guarantee Scheme, being implemented in all districts to achieve the target of free and compulsory education for children in the age group of 6-11 years by 2007AD and for the children in the age group of 11-14 years by 2010 AD will be given the required impetus. My Govt. also proposes to derive maximum benefit from the centrally sponsored Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which now covers the entire State.
10. Higher and Technical Education will also receive due attention of my Govt. The ongoing programme for improvement of infrastructure for the Manipur University and its affiliated colleges will be carried forward and additional resources mobilized from the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and the newly created Department of Development of North East Region have assured that adequate funds will be provided both for development of infrastructure for Manipur University and the Govt. College of Technology. Members are aware that the state Government had taken the initiative to set up the Govt. College of Technology at Takyelpat to meet the growing need for trained engineering manpower. However, the infrastructure is extremely inadequate and there is a crying and urgent need for its up gradation and strengthening. The National Building Construction Corporation, a Central Public Sector Undertaking, has been requested to prepare the estimates and the detailed project report.
11. Steps have been initiated for modernizing the existing four ITIs and establishment of five new ITIs in Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Chandel and Tamenglong districts with 100% Central assistance for which 1100.8 lakhs have been earmarked under the Prime Minister's Package for North Eastern States. My Govt. proposes to expedite implementation and utilization of funds being received under the PM's Package.
12. My Govt. also proposes to review the functioning of the Targeted Public Distribution System and make it more transparent and people friendly. In pursuance of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, it will be ensured that the benefits under the Targeted Public Distribution System, Antyodaya Anna Yojana and the Annapurna Yojana reach the identified beneficiaries. 25,000 families in the nine districts have already been identified under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana and rice received from the Central Govt. at a highly subsidized rate of Rs. 3/- per KG is being made available @25 KGs per month per family to the poorest of the poor from amongst the BPL families. Similarly, with funds received from the Union Ministry of Rural Development, rice is being distributed @ 10 KGs per month free of cost to identified poor persons who are eligible to receive old-age pension but have not yet been covered by the National Old-age Pension scheme.
13. My Govt. recognizes and congratulates the young sports persons who have brought glory to the State both during the 5th National Games held at Imphal in 1999 and the recently concluded 6th National Games hosted by Punjab . Besides awarding cash incentives to the medallists, appointments in the Police Department have been given to some of them. It is happy to note that the infrastructure created during the 5th National Games is being gainfully utilized and the State's sports persons continue to make a mark in the National and International Meets. My Govt. is committed to encouraging sports persons in the years to come.
14. Manipur has a wide spectrum and rich variety of its own multifarious forms of arts and culture. The classical and stylist Ras-Lila and Lai-Haraoba are well known for their graceful dance forms. Yaoshang, Kang Chingba, Kut and Lui-Ngai-ni are some of the important festivals of Manipur. Indigenous games like Khong-Kangjei, Kang, Yubi-Lakpi, Mukna, Hiyang-Tannaba, Thang-Ta etc. offer exotic experience to both the domestic and foreign tourists. Most people outside the State are pleasantly surprised to know that the game of Polo, known as Sagol-Kangjei, originated in Manipur. My Govt. is committed to promoting the rich heritage of the State in the field of arts and culture.
15. The growing menace of HIV and AIDS in the State is a matter of serious concern to all of us. Up to the end of January, 2001, as many as 11,271 HIV positive cases were detected in the State. Under the AIDS Control programme being implemented with Central assistance by the Manipur AIDS Control Society, 100% screening has been introduced in all the Blood Banks in Manipur. AIDS education has been introduced in the schools curriculum from class VI to X. The AIDS Control Society has also set up 17 Targeted Intervention Projects in the six high prevalence districts of the State. A time has come to evaluate the success of the ongoing AIDS control programme and to take new initiatives to eliminate this scourge of mankind. My Govt. is committed to providing total healthcare and will take special steps for re-vitalizing the primary healthcare system in the rural areas. External aid will also be tapped for upgrading the secondary healthcare system in the State.
16. My Govt. is committed to special initiatives for the economic revival of the State. In this context, my Govt. will endeavor to maximize External and Central assistance for major projects. One of the thrust areas will be to expedite the extension of the railway line from Jiribam to Imphal. In view of the shortage of resources for funding the State Plan, a renewed thrust will be given to mobilize External Assistance, both bilateral and multilateral. The Kangchup Water Supply scheme and certain other Water Supply schemes have already been implemented successfully with French assistance. It is noteworthy that the Kangchup Water Supply scheme meets as much as 40% of drinking water supply requirement of Imphal City . Efforts are on to mobilize French assistance for the Irilbung Water Supply scheme. Foundation stone has been recently laid for the Imphal Sewerage Project (Phase-I) at Lamphelpat. An agreement has also been signed with French Companies at Paris recently for setting up of a Solid Waste Management Plant at Lamdeng Khunou.
17. My Govt. proposes to ensure speedy and effective implementation of Japanese funded Sericulture Project. After detailed deliberations with the Ministry of Textiles and the Central Silk Board, the project has been revised and procedures streamlined. I am hopeful that the revised Project will be implemented in right earnest, provide employment to a large number of people in the rural areas and improve their living standards. Further efforts for tapping Japanese assistance for other projects will be continued with renewed vigour.
18. My Govt. will accord appropriate priority to speed up improvement and up gradation of all National Highways. My Govt. will also renew efforts for extension of the proposed Super Highway from Silchar to Moreh via Imphal. This Super Highway has the potential to be the precursor of the proposed Trans Asian Highway linking India with other South East Asian countries.
19. My Govt. also proposes to connect the district headquarters by a State Highway standard Ring road. The BRO has already initiated survey and investigation for connecting Senapati to Phaibung. This road is being funded from the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources. Implementation of other ongoing projects like the Thoubal and Khuga Multipurpose Projects, Dolaithabi Barage Project and NEC funded projects will be expedited. Special efforts will be mounted for obtaining Central Government clearance to implementation of the 90 MW Loktak Down Stream and the 1500 MW Tipaimukh Hydro Electric Projects. Funds being received under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes will be gainfully utilized and additional funds mobilized.
20. My Govt. proposes to take up intensive plantation of agricultural and horticultural crops such as tea, coffee and spices with assistance from the Commodity Boards. These schemes will provide gainful employment to a large number of people in the rural areas and also lead to their economic upliftment. Private sector investments will also be mobilized in these sectors. Further, efforts will be made to encourage the cooperative movement and strengthen the Apex Cooperative Bank.
21. The conservation and management of the Loktak Lake is central to the social, economic and environmental well being of the State besides being the natural reservoir for the Loktak HEP. Unfortunately, due to the unchecked felling of trees in the catchment areas, large scale siltation has taken place thus reducing the holding capacity of the lake and leading to inundation of several thousand acres of cultivable paddy fields on the periphery. The Planning Commission has been approached for assisting the State Govt. to prepare a detailed project report for the conservation and management of the Loktak Lake . Professional consultant has also been identified for preparation of the detailed project report. My Govt. proposes to mobilize funding for the proposed project for conservation and development of the Loktak Lake soon after the detailed project report is submitted by the consultant.
22. My Govt. also proposes to carry forward the initiatives taken for introduction and wide spread use of Information Technology in all spheres, particularly in the Govt. We propose to establish a Software Technology park which will offer the computer professional opportunities for development and export of software for earning valuable foreign exchange. We also propose to work closely with the Ministry of Information Technology for setting up Community Information Centers at all block headquarters to provide Internet connectivity. Similarly, with a view to promoting tourism, which has the potential to provide employment to a large number of people, my Govt. proposes to pursue the proposals to relax restrictions on the entry of foreigners into Manipur. The Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India will be requested to expedite setting up of the infrastructure for boosting border trade with Myanmar through Moreh.
23. Before concluding, I must place on record the gratitude of the people of Manipur and my Govt. for the assistance amounting to Rs.1.60 crores released by the Planning Commission from the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources for restoration of Manipur Assembly building, Chief Minister's Secretariat and the Speaker's Bunglow. But for this timely assistance, it would have been extremely difficult for resource starved Manipur to meet these additional liabilities and to hold this first session of the 8th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
24. Hon'ble Members, I have in brief presented to you the policy perspectives and programmes that my Govt. proposes to implement and highlighted some of the development activities undertaken in the recent past. While concluding, I would like to once again emphasize that my Govt. is fully committed to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur, maintain peace and social harmony among our people and bring about fiscal discipline. I am confident that my Government will receive the unstinted support and co-operation of all the Hon'ble Members of this august House and the people of Manipur in its efforts aimed at solving the multifarious problems confronting our State. I now, with all my best wishes leave you to your deliberations.